Dead or Alive 3 - Xbox

Also known as: D.O.A. 3', 'DOA 3', 'Dead or Alive III

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Viewed: 3D Combination Genre:
Beat 'Em Up
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Tecmo Soft. Co.: Tecmo
Publishers: Tecmo (US)
Microsoft (GB)
Released: 14 Mar 2002 (GB)
Unknown (US)
Ratings: 11+
Accessories: Arcade Stick


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Fighting games make up that section of gaming referred to affectionately by the PlayStation generation as 'hardcore games'. Though the boundaries of what this means have shifted, it would be fair to say arcade heritage and true old-skool gameplay are what is required to fulfil the criteria.

So where does Tecmo’s Dead or Alive 3 fit in? Never released in the arcades, and exhibiting deliberately mainstream play mechanics and accessibility, is this a fighting game for designed for 'pick up and play' fun over training mode combo-obsession?

The inclusion of a Japanese fighting game in the software line-up for Xbox was a master-stroke for Microsoft and exhibited a true understanding of the Japanese games industry. Launch sales figures for Xbox proved that the system’s main appeal in Japan was DOA 3, with the game even hitting the number one spot in the all format chart.

The last game in the series, created for Dreamcast and later released for PlayStation 2, sold well, even though it was widely disliked by the beat-em-up community. Arguably, its major pulling-point lay somewhere in the character design. The female characters were, erm, exaggerated to say the least. Huge, round, pendulous breasts, vaguely masked behind the skimpiest of interchangeable fetish-driven outfits, thong-visibility during high-kicks and pseudo-erotic knockout poses were far from accidental. Tecmo famously employed an animator to focus solely on breast and buttock animation. All good, clean fun, but not the focus upon intricate balanced gameplay the hardcore gamer wanted.

Dead or Alive 3 is graphically stunning, one of the best looking of the first-generation Xbox games to become available. The frame rate, animation, backgrounds and attention to environmental detail will impress beyond expectation. The series’ trademark split-level arenas are wonderfully realised, with characters smashing pleasingly through temple walls and plummeting into the mouth of a waterfall, only to jump up and carry on fighting.

The gameplay structure will please fans of the series as there have been almost zero changes from its predecessor. Aside from a couple of new characters, the entire cast from DOA2 has remained unchanged, along with all their combos, punches, kicks, throws and reversals. The controversial counter-system has remained intact, a fact that will please some and infuriate others. This a system employed by Tecmo to make the game more balanced within its own game-engine. This involves a single button press that will counter your opponent’s and make them vulnerable for an attack of your own. This is not as good as it sounds however, as your opponent can then counter your counter attack, but, you can then counter theirs and so on. This goes on until someone messes up and takes a blow. The driving force behind this system and Tecmo’s determination to keep it, is exhibited in another great 3D fighting series, namely Sega and Yu Suzuki’s Virtua Fighter games. The idea is to make the player feel as though he is engaged in a real-life kung fu movie and as such, it works very well, providing frenetic gameplay and a few laughs along the way.